Wine Fair: by giving customers a voice, Intermarché sees itself as a purchasing advisor

Monday July 14 2014 by Vitisphere




In autumn 2013, Intermarché's wine fair generated a turnover of € 63 million (+8% compared to 2012), making it the third biggest supermarket wine fair in France.   According to Catherine Fedrigo (the Les Mousquetaires’* wine and champagne category manager), this was the simple consequence of Intermarché’s growth in this niche.  She emphasizes that "the aim is not to compare ourselves to others, but to improve the operation from one year to the next."   Five years ago, 1,350 wine fairs took place in the Intermarché network in the autumn.  This year, a wine fair will be set up in 1,650 stores from 10-21 September, with 4 catalogue versions available (from 80 to 360 listed wines, plus 16 regional versions) and a total of 760 wines on offer (selected by three Intermarché "field oenologists").

It was not obvious that the wine fair would be so popular: "Intermarché has more of a food focus," admits Daniel Travini (an Intermarché member in Cognac), "but of course good food calls for good wine!  We actually treat the wine section like a fresh food section, we have to refresh it regularly with different appellations and vintages. We always try to listen to our customers.  This year, this approach will result in a selection of 45 wines, chosen by 70 customers who are wine enthusiasts ("and not wine experts" points out Catherine Fedrigo) at three tasting sessions held last April.  Leading to the launch of the "Club des Amateurs" (wine lovers club), this approach clearly wishes to position Intermarché's selection as recommended purchases.  This consumer endorsement will be at the centre of the 2014 wine fair’s communication and could have a bearing on the future direction of Intermarché's sourcing strategy. "We closed the loop to get closer to customers, the final stage will be the consumer, who will be the sole arbiter of the effectiveness of our approach," adds Catherine Fedrigo.

Innovation aside, the wine fair is a major event. "This is an important promotional period, which gives us the opportunity to connect directly with consumers and allows us to create excitement at the point of sale" says Eric Gianduzzo (an Intermarché member in Juillan).  But mail-outs and in-store decoration alone do not create a lasting event. According to Daniel Travini, "we realize that when advice is at hand, with someone competent talking about the selection, people will let themselves be guided (once trust has been gained)."  Consumers generally spend more during the wine fair, buying higher value products, with an average basket value twice that of the rest of the year. "Consumers wait for the fair and make calculated, rather than impulse, purchases. They spend more money and time in store, we see them browsing for longer (when usually they do not spend more than 2 to 3 minutes in the wine section)" says Eric Gianduzzo.

"Consumers in our stores are still after the same thing, Bordeaux wines are the reference (30-40% of volume sold), but they are also interested in suggestions which allows us to offer appellations, which they are not used to and which we cannot work on the shelves due to low volumes," states Catherine Fedrigo.   A smaller AOC offering, which also resolves supply issues. "We had to reduce the Burgundy selection, there is a real shortage of its white wines,"  explains Daniel Travini, "to fill the gap, we will have some Coteaux Bourguignons, an appellation which hadn’t really been seen before, but which people seem to like."  Unusual formats (magnums) and sparkling wines (including champagne, particularly premium cuvées) are also increasingly popular.





*: The Les Mousquetaires group includes Intermarché, Netto (€ 1.3 million turnover from the autumn 2013 wine fair, +2.4%), Bricomarché, Poivre Rouge,.etc.



[Photo: "Club des Amateurs" evening at Intermarché in Cognac]


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